Ferrer/iTUSA Training Methodology

The Academia Tenis Ferrer (ATF) and the iTUSA Tennis Academy have developed a methodology based on the winning patterns and characteristics of the top men’s and women’s professional tennis players. At the academies, our students can utilize the pro model that is most appropriate for their game based on their capabilities and tennis instincts.

The iTUSA system maximizes your game no matter your current level of play. The system adapts a player’s strokes and strategies based on age, gender and ability, conforming the game to the player’s abilities. The iTUSA strategies allow you to rise above your competition. Whether you are in high school, college or on the pro tour, the iTUSA system will perfect your training and pull out all the stops, leading to victory after victory.

David Ferrer is a role model to a number of our students and is the perfect example of a player who exudes professionalism, tenacity and mental toughness. Our programs are built upon these values. In this video you can see an example of how David’s effective short drive is developed by a series of winning patterns. With this methodology, you can see four of the many drills utilized to develop an effective short drive, demonstrated by one of our academy students, Sasha Alexander as she builds the same winning combinations by practicing correctly and specifically to achieve her short drive goals.

The short drive is the most underrated shot in tennis. The higher the level of competition the more effective the short drive becomes, as the better the player the harder it is to hit a winner to the open court.

The short drive is an aggressive shot hit between the service line and 3/4 court. It is a shot hit with velocity, on the rise and with diagonal trajectory. The spin has to move the ball forward and not upward, so you have to swing on more of a horizontal plane extending and following through around your shoulders.

Top players have tremendous court coverage, and they possess great defensive skills and lighting speed with their feet. When you see players like Djokovic or Nadal, the duration of the rallies increase as they become almost impossible to penetrate through the baseline. The short drive becomes your best and most reliable weapon especially when your opponent backs up further away from the baseline to retrieve and counter attack your aggressive shots.

The first two patterns, (FH DL + FH CC short drive and BH DL + BH CC short drive), are set with your aggressive down the lines. The tendency of your opponent after hitting a deep and forcing down the line drive is to back up from the baseline (as Nadal does) so the court opens up. If your opponent replies to you down the line or toward the middle of the court, you are in a position to execute your short drive.

As you know by now the iTUSA methodology emphasizes an aggressive, controlled game. To do so there is no better way than to use the middle of the court properly. The third pattern to set up your forehand inside out drive (FH deep middle + FH IO short drive) is to push your opponent back by hitting an aggressive forehand with depth, penetration and velocity to the middle of the court. As your opponent moves back you need to move with explosion around the ball to create the inside out opening with your rotational footwork.

The last pattern (BH CC deep + BH CC short drive) covers the effectiveness of playing behind a player. The best way to do so is after you can hit a crisp and penetrating cross court shot close to the baseline. As your opponents think and anticipate to cover the open court you can effectively play behind them, as long as your short drive is placed correctly and as close as you can toward the service line. Accuracy and placement is much more important than power when hitting the short drive.

After each winning pattern you will see the drill necessary to develop that particular combination. By doing these drills frequently you will develop the confidence and consistency to develop a successful game. That is one of the components how at iTUSA we are turning players into champions!

Watch the video here.

iTUSA is Proud of the Success of Their Players on the National and International Level

The talent of iTUSA’s players continues to rise with each and every New Year. Our students continue to have success on the national and international level. Every so often we like to take the time to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of our students throughout the year. Although young, the maturity of our junior players allows them to succeed at the national and international level.

Ching-Wen Hsu

Ching-Wen Hsu, a 16 year old born in Taiwan is currently ranked as the #6 player in the world (ITF). She recently went to the finals of the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, Grade A event. While at iTUSA Ching-Wen has been developing her game on iTUSA’s clay courts, one of iTUSA’s training methodologies and a practice which has lead the Spanish Davis Cup team to a number of championships. Ching-Wen has also won the Seogwipo Asian/Oceania Closed International Junior Tennis Championships, Mian-Chang Cup International Junior Championships 2012 and the Asian Closed Junior Championships in India.

Brandon Nakashima

Brandon Nakashima reached the finals of the Winter Nationals U-12 in Tucson, AZ, propelling him to the #4-ranked player in the nation. Brandon is utilizing the iTUSA system and methodology to improve his footwork and develop a more powerful and explosive game that will allow him to succeed at a higher level and against older competition. We are excited to share with you his training programs and development in the upcoming newsletter as we feel Brandon has pro potential and will be a force to be reckoned with on the ATP tour for a number of years. Brandon has moved up to the U14 age group and although he is only 11 years old, he has won the Boys 14s sectional in Southern California this past weekend.

Daniel Sharygin

Daniel Sharygin is an 11-year-old tennis player from Newburgh, Indiana. He recently won a regional tournament in Atlanta (National Level 3) in boys 12s.

Accordingly to Mr. Sharygin, this result would not be possible without the intensive training received at the iTUSA Academy in March 2012 and January 2013. Coach Rafael Font de Mora identified three areas that Daniel needs to work on daily.

  1. Mental toughness in training and match play.
  2. Continue developing an aggressive game with proper pattern development and monitoring in practice sessions and matches.
  3. No relaxing or decrease of his focus and intensity when he is ahead.
Daniel’s new aggressive style of play that he learned at the iTUSA academy has enabled him to win several tough tournaments where in the past, he would have only won one or two matches.

Alexa Noel

Alexa Noel took 4th place in the National Regional Girls 12s in Quakertown, PA. She was unseeded and took out the 5th and 3rd seed to make it to the semifinals. This past weekend Alexa won G12’s Eastern sectionals.

Juliet Zhang Gets Her First WTA World Ranking Point at 14

Juliet Zhang received her first WTA world ranking point after defeating Marine Meraut of France, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the main draw round of 32 of the $10,000 Gosier in Guadeloupe, France. Juliet is currently preparing for several pro tournaments in Egypt, Africa. We are very excited that regardless of her young age (14 years old), she is already achieving WTA pro success.

Wendy Zhang Beats Top-400 WTA Players Back to Back

Wendy Zhang beat two top-400 WTA players during back-to-back tournaments. During the $25,000 Surprise tournament, Wendy beat Margarita Lazareva of Russia, the number 3 seed in the tournament and 344 WTA ranking, 6-3, 6-4. Then in the 2013 BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells Pre-Qualifying Tournament), Wendy defeated Sally Peers of Australia, the number 6 seed in the tournament and 145 WTA ranking, 5-7, 6-1, 10-8 (tie break).

Jasmin Jebawy Continues Her Success as She Launches Her Pro Career

Jasmin Jebawy’s latest success was reaching the quarter finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. After winning 3 matches, she lost to eventual champion Gabriela Dabrowoski after holding set points against her. Gabriela was ranked #5 in the world ITF and is currently 293 WTA. Jasmin has had wins over top-350 players this past month. She is currently working on her endurance to be able to sustain this high level in consecutive months of WTA Tournaments.

Best of luck to all of our players as they continue to climb the international and national rankings!

The Inspiration of Esperanza Merry

Esperanza Merry continues to be an inspiration to all of us at iTUSA as she continues her dream of playing tennis.

Luz Esperanza Merry and Lucy Shuker, the Wheelchair Tennis British No. 1, World No. 6 and 2012 Paralympic Doubles Bronze Medalist, continue to excel. Esperanza and Lucy were invited to attend a Great Britain Wheelchair Tennis Open Day to help promote wheelchair tennis. It was a great honor for Esperanza to be invited, and she thoroughly enjoyed her day. It is the mission of Esperanza to help disabled children participate in sports, especially wheelchair tennis. Esperanza is on the Great Britain National Wheelchair Performance Program and is projected by the LTA to be a future Paralympic Gold medalist with the possibility of competing in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio at age 15 and potentially again in the 2020 Paralympics when she will be 19.

Esperanza is progressing so well that she will be selected to the Great Britain Junior Team for the 2013 Wheelchair Tennis BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Turkey in May. This is an under-18 event, and Esperanza will be competing at age 12. She has only been playing for 5 months, but has advanced very quickly. Wheelchair tennis is rapidly expanding, with over 170 global wheelchair tennis tournaments, organized by the International Tennis Federation in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania. Wheelchair tennis is a part of the 4 tennis Grand Slam events - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. The attached photo shows Esperanza with Lucy Shuker & her Paralympic Bronze Medal.

Click here to watch a video of Esperanza during her first weeks of wheelchair tennis.

Bolivian Top Coach Experiences World-Class Internship with iTUSA’s Coaches Program

Oscar Ramiro Videa is the Director of Tennis at Club de Tenis la Paz in Bolivia. His staff has 20 coaches, 4 fitness trainers and a sports psychologist. Oscar Ramiro is the captain of the U-12, -14 and -16 national teams. He develops the top prospects in Bolivia and travels with them internationally. He has been excelling with his internship at iTUSA’s headquarters in Glendale, Arizona and has been instrumental in the development of iTUSA’s new Hall of Fame building. Oscar will be finishing his internship next month.

If you are interested or know a coach who would like to enhance his world-class coaching skills, click here for more information about iTUSA’s Coaches Program.

Facility Updates

iTUSA continues to invest a significant amount of resources into its training, new facility and methodology, an integrated system which is heavily based on technology and state-of-the-art video. The latest breakthrough has come in the form of monitoring the speed, consistency and placement of each of our players shots, linked to real time video, allowing for players and coaches to view and analyze each shot immediately right on the court. This is the second component on which the iTUSA world-class training methodology has been based. The first component is proper footwork, speed and endurance. In our upcoming newsletter, we will be highlighting the third and fourth components of the iTUSA training methodology.

iTUSA recently installed a radar speed measurement system from Sports Radar on Court #2. It includes 2 permanently-mounted radar guns and an LED readout. The system interfaces with a computer running iTUSA’s proprietary speed and shot location tracking software and database. This is all controlled remotely on-court via an iPad. This setup allows iTUSA to monitor and track a player’s serve speed and location data which can then be compared and charted over the course of a day, a week, a month, a year or even a career. Sports Radar has been extremely helpful in making sure the radar guns are set up specifically for iTUSA’s needs.

We are currently testing and installing a second radar system from Stalker Radar on Court #1. It will assist in recording the speed of players’ return of serve and other shots during the course of a rally. It will similarly be set up with iTUSA’s proprietary software and iPad remote control system.

The next step will be installing video cameras, monitors and recording capability to integrate video data with the speed and location data. iTUSA is committed to continue building world-class technology systems to complement its world-class training methodology. Watch for more updates in our upcoming newsletters.

Spring Break Academy Program Sold Out

The iTUSA Spring Break Academy Program has sold out for this upcoming spring, but we will soon be providing information on our Summer Program with pre-registration information to secure an academy spot.

Ching-Wen, Rafael and Brandon
Daniel Sharygin (wearing red)
Alexa Noel

Esperanza Merry

Oscar Ramiro Videa

Ferrer/iTUSA Training Methodology - The Short Drive

See our main story at the beginning of this newsletter for a video containing a series of 4 "Short Drive" drills.

The Difficulty of “Finishing”, by Allen Fox, Ph.D.

About Dr. Allen Fox

Dr. Allen Fox earned a Ph.D. in psychology at UCLA and is a former NCAA champion, Wimbledon quarterfinalist, a three-time member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, and coached the Pepperdine tennis team to two NCAA finals. He currently consults with tennis players on mental issues, appears in his popular 1-Minute Clinics on the Tennis Channel, and lectures world-wide on sports psychology. He is also an editor and writer for Tennis Magazine.

Dr. Fox is the author of four books: “IF I’M THE BETTER PLAYER, WHY CAN’T I WIN?”, “THINK TO WIN,” “THE WINNER’S MIND, a Competitor’s Guide to Sports and Business Success,” and “TENNIS: WINNING THE MENTAL MATCH.”

His books can be purchased on his website at  

By Allen Fox, Ph.D. © 2012, all rights reserved

In my consulting with aspiring young tournament players and even with touring pros one of the most common problems I hear is, “When I am serving for the set or the match I often get nervous and play a terrible game to let my opponent back in, and then my own game falls apart.” (This rarely happens when players are truly confident and much better than their opponents. But when they are worse and unconfident it happens often.) A variation of this complaint is, “I get ahead in a set, become over-confident, relax, and my opponent comes back to beat me.” They all think there is something wrong with them, that they are abnormal, but they aren’t. Both of these complaints are quite normal symptoms of the difficulty of finishing, and finishing is a prime mental hurdle to be overcome in any closely contested tennis match. Of course it overlaps the chapter on choking, but it is substantial enough in its own right to deserve its own analysis.

Most players get nervous when they are ahead rather than behind. When I ask players, from beginners to world champions, when they get the most nervous most tell me it is when they are ahead of a dangerous opponent and on the verge of winning. At first glance this seems illogical. They should be more nervous when they are behind, since most of us are afraid of losing. We ought to be more concerned about faltering when we are down match point, since doing so means we immediately lose, than when we are up match point, and the worst that can happen is that we would be even. So what makes us so nervous and stressed when we are ahead?

Is it the “fear of winning?” One theory that is often bandied about is that these people are afraid of winning because that’s what it looks like when they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. These theorists throw out complex psycho-babble explanations like, “These players deep down don’t feel they deserve to win so they subconsciously make themselves lose.” I find the idea that players are afraid of winning hard to swallow. At least I have never met anybody who was. On the other hand, I’ve met plenty who are afraid of losing – in fact, pretty much everybody.

In my own experience, losing was the only thing I was afraid of. (I had my share of nervous errors when I was on the verge of winning so it might have appeared otherwise.) The feeling I had was one of conservatism. I had my opponent down, the finish line was in sight, and I didn’t want him to get away. I had the marbles in my hand, and I wanted to close it without risk of losing them. If there had been a time limit on the match I would have gone into a stall. Having reached the “moment of truth” I was fearful that if I let this opportunity slip, I might not get another. I felt the urgency to win now, but also felt the risk that I might not.

Winning is a personal test. It may be that the nervousness comes from the quantum difference between being on the verge of winning and actually notching up the win. Reaching the verge of a win is a lot easier psychologically than actually finishing it, and all of us have our insecurities as to whether we can pull it off. When we are ahead of tough opponents we all know that until we have won the last point, they can, at any time, come back and beat us. We have doubts as to whether we have whatever it takes to push on through to a win. Since we have gotten ahead, our games are obviously adequate, but until the win is actually in hand we must question our intangibles. Do we have the winner’s knack? Could we possibly be missing the elusive “it” factor that winners possess? There is a bit of a test factor involved, particularly in the bigger situations, and we won’t know whether we will pass until we actually finish, and this uncertainty is scary and stressful.

When you are behind never forget that your opponent may have trouble finishing. On the other hand, the difficulties of finishing also have a bright side. Namely, when your opponents are ahead they will also face these difficulties, and understanding this can help you mount a come-back. When you are behind and prone to discouragement remind yourself that your opponents may well procrastinate and relax or tighten up and choke. So you should stiffen your resolve in order to help them do so.

The strategic rule here is that whenever your opponents are up game point, you should make every effort to play a tough point. Avoid making it easy on them by going for a low percentage winner and missing early. (Of course if a high percentage opportunity for a winner opens up by all means take it.) Remember that your opponents are feeling the pressure and praying for a quick error (just as you would if the situation were reversed). So don’t give it to them. Their nerves may be too much on edge to grind out a long point or make a passing shot. Take advantage by forcing them to come up with the great play to beat you. Corollary rules are: 1.) When your opponent is serving and up game point never miss the serve return if you can possibly help it, and 2.) When you are serving and down game point, get your first serve in.

Remembering the mental difficulties your opponent may have in finishing can not only insulate you from the discouragement of being behind, but it can also direct your strategy for making a comeback.


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